XXL Cloud Inc. has only been around since 2014, but their aim is certainly ambitious. On their about page, they set a goal to dominate the cloud storage industry by 2020, and seeing how quickly clouds form and dissipate, maybe it could happen.
After being disappointed with the security and privacy protections of the biggest cloud storage offerings, they decided to found XXL Box in April of last year. The service claims to combine security, privacy, flexibility, and powerful collaboration. Does it fulfill such promises? Read on to find out.
Group collaboration and Contacts list
No account needed to access shared links
Customizable versioning up to 90 days
Manage connected devices on web
Interact with Libraries on desktop whether synced or not
Sync libraries to any folder, even network shares
Desktop software backs up Microsoft/Libre Office temp files
Apps for iOS and Android
Encrypted end-to-end with 256-bit AES
Optional zero-knowledge privacy with Crypto-Libraries
No file quantity limits
Can create your own collaborative wiki
Dashboard is currently missed opportunity
No built-in web document editing
No web-based music or video playback
Cannot download libraries from web client
100 MB limit on web folder downloads
Limited sharing and collaboration on desktop and mobile
Slow sync performance
Relatively expensive pricing; limited to 300 GB for consumers
XXL Box is an incredibly ambitious service with a lot of promise and a rich feature set. It has some rough edges, a few missing features, an expensive pricing model, and slow syncing speeds, but XXL Box is still packed with a massive feature set and impressive functionality. The company is promising updates to fill those feature holes in the future, but it’s still well worth a try as it stands. Regardless, keep an eye on this ambitious cloud company.
It’s a been a long time since I’ve seen a dashboard-like front screen in a cloud service. I have to admit, I miss the old dashboards that show recent updates, a storage use graph, and some quick links.
Unfortunately, this is not that. The Storage graph only shows filled space. Most links are either advertisements or simply don’t work. The Billing history is nice, but could have been folded into the Account settings just as easily. The customizable avatar is cool for a cooperative service like this, but most will ignore it.
That said, there’s promise in this method and I encourage the company to develop the dashboard further.
The web file browser is clean, functional, and all important functions are easy to access. File interactions pop up to the right, and most functions are to the left. You can switch between personal, shared, or group-based files.
XXL Box lets you manage your installed devices, and even lets you forcibly disable a device’s access, in case it gets stolen or misplaced.
With XXL Box, you don’t just upload files and folders. You can also manage “Libraries.” We’ll go more in depth with this in the desktop software, but essentially instead of having one Dropbox-like bucket, you can have several with differing options.
One of those options is to create a Crypto Library, which is given additional encryption based on a password of your choosing. The password is never submitted to the server, but the uploaded files are encrypted with a hash generated in the web session based on this password. Anyone wanting to open the library will need to enter the password. If you do so on the web, the password will be stored for 1 hour on XXL Box’s servers, and then promptly purged from their system.
Opening a library provides a bit more file information and a few more operations. You can download individual files or folders only. Multiple files can be selected, but I didn’t see a way to download more than one.
Downloaded folders will be compressed into a .zip file for easy access, but this appears to be limited to folders smaller than 100 MB. Even folders close to that take several minutes to generate a download, or will even cause an error. That said, I didn’t see any size limits on downloading or uploading individual files.
XXL Box does save and revert file versions as you request, through the History page. They’ll save up to 30 days of file changes with free accounts, up to 90 days with Pro accounts, and unlimited versions with Business accounts.
XXL Box is one of the few cloud storage services I’ve seen that lets you choose how long versions are saved for, up to the max I mentioned above. I’m not sure how useful this is, but it’s nice to have the option.
XXL Box offers the unique ability to create wikis within the web interface. This option has to be enabled from the cog to the left in the image above. Wikis can then be created from libraries. The editing interface lets you enter text, images, block quotes, or whatever code you want.
XXL Box offers a wealth of sharing and collaboration options, and amazingly, free accounts get the same options as pro accounts.
XXL Box offers download links and even links to request uploads from others, with optional passwords and time limits. It’s great that neither of these options require an account to access.
But if your contacts have, or will have, an XXL Box account, you can send Private Shares. This sends an e-mail invitation to an e-mail address, saved e-mail contact, or an XXL Box Group. If accepted, they’ll be able to see the files or folders under the “Shared” tab and can interact as you give them permission.
Groups is XXL Box’s collaborative environment, where members can share, create, and edit libraries with each other. While it may look like a different area of your cloud storage, all Group shared libraries are stored on the account of the person who created the library in the first place, and not on everyone else’s cloud storage.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to add a member with read-only access to a group, as anyone can share libraries and edit files. Only admins can add additional members and designate admin status, as well.
Groups will show up as an additional contact type when sharing, but only when sharing entire libraries. To add a file or folder to the group, you have to add it to an existing shared library.
XXL Box supports a chat client, as any good collaborative service should. It’s a bit on the simplistic side, but it works well enough. You’ll be notified with a number on the alarm bell or a pop-up in the desktop software if you get a chat message.
Finally, Groups can also create a shared Wiki page as well. Wikis are a fantastic corkboard, FAQ, or SOP document for teams, so it’s nice to see this as an option that’s built into XXL Box.
As mentioned before, XXL Box’s Libraries act as individual cloud buckets, and as such, they sync that way too. Any of your libraries can be downloaded to any folder accessible to your computer. Yes, even USB and networked storage.
For this reason, XXL Box’s interface works quite well. You can quickly see what libraries are only in the cloud (blue) and what’s synced locally (green). In addition, you can see what’s read-only (red) and Crypto-locked (yellow).
I was most impressed with how much you can do with Libraries that are not synced locally. While it’s not quite the same as a Placeholder-based system with local folder integration, it offers much of the same functionality without the confusion of online-only files being stored on your computer. XXL Box should be given high praise for this innovative twist.
All the standard software settings are available, including bandwidth limits and proxy controls. I was impressed with the option to back up Microsoft and Libre Office temp files in both Windows and Mac clients. The advanced tab also lets you determine syncing behavior when you delete local directories.
The desktop software is available for Windows and Mac OS. They advertise a version for Debian and Red Hat-based Linux distros as well, but it appears the download has been taken down for now.
XXL Box offers fairly similar mobile apps for iOS and Android. Both apps offer the standard upload and download options as well as starring files, an event/activity viewer, and a Camera Roll auto-upload feature.
Unfortunately, neither app supports the uploading of a new Library. To upload files in a no-knowledge environment, you’ll have to upload to an existing Crypto-Library.
The apps are a bit limited compared to the rest of the service. Sharing is limited to either a copied link, or an “export” option that will download the file and attach it in its entirety. There’s no passwords, no contact sharing, no group interaction, and no access options. The settings don’t offer much either, other than a pattern lock option on the Android app.
In general, I was a bit disappointed with the apps, but that’s a reflection of how feature packed the service is otherwise. For the features they support, the apps work quite well.
Due to the below results, I tried testing on a few different services to confirm, including a 50 Mbps down / 5 Mbps up cable connection.
XXL Box Performance
Average Upload Speed
Maximum Upload Speed
Average Download Speed
Maximum Download Speed
No matter where I tested it, other than a few weird spikes, speeds were consistently maintained at 3-4 Mbps. They have both E.U. and U.S. based servers. It’s possible that some latency is involved, since I’m testing on the West Coast of the United States, but the speeds are disappointing. I’m only hoping this will improve as the company continues to grow and advance their technologies.
XXL Box hits a lot of check boxes in security and privacy. All files are protected with end-to-end 256-bit AES and SSL encryption, redundant backup across 3 geographical locations, and optional zero-knowledge encryption, should you use Crypto-Libraries.
Crypto-Libraries offer true zero-knowledge privacy if created, stored, and accessed through the desktop software, since the key is never submitted to the server. Even creating a Crypto-Library online is arguably private, as the key is generated in the session, but never submitted to the server. If you access the locked files on the web, the key will be stored on the server for 1 hour for convenience, but the company notes that the key is purged after that hour expires.
While some cloud providers use data deduplication, where a single file that multiple users uploaded on their respective accounts will only be stored once, XXL Box does not. Since your files are absolutely your own, and are not shared with the accounts of others, this does benefit security.
Finally, the company gets kudos for verifying e-mail addresses prior to creation. While their security and privacy designs are quite impressive, I was a little disappointed that they do not support two-factor authentication, nor does it appear that their web client supports Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS).
XXL Box Free
XXL Box Pro
XXL Box offers a free plan with a paltry 2 GB of storage, but you can also get 500 MB bonuses with successful referrals.
The Pro plan is a bit on the expensive side, but given their extensive feature set and solid security and privacy protections, the premium can be justified. But, I do wish there were additional storage tier options for personal accounts.
In addition, it should be noted that services like Dropbox and Box.com limit account storage to 300,000 and 100,000 files, respectably. XXL Box does not have any such limits.
XXL Cloud also offers a business plan where they will install a private on-premises cloud server in your business with as much storage as you want.
XXL Box offers an extensive amount of support options, including a Help Center with FAQ and search options, a Customer Service e-mail submission, and a phone number (+1-302-298-0050) you can contact for support. All of these options are available for all customers, but Pro users will jump to the top of the queue.
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